The attempt to change people is the greatest energy waste of all, not because people can’t change, but because change is a growth process from within. In most cases, the desire to change another person arises from the very subtle urge to make him into something he is not. This other soul can never be anything than what he is, though his potential may be seriously frustrated.
It is a perfectly natural thing to see the needs of people and want to do something about them. However, much as you want to change another person, the first step is not to set him right, but rather to see him rightly. And to see him rightly, you must get rid of some very narrow frames of reference. For instance, if you have an enemy, you must get rid of your enmity. If you are very much troubled over the crisis being faced by a loved one, you must first dissolve your troubled thoughts.
Be An Influence
All the persons about whom you are concerned, no matter how much you love or hate them, exist (as far as you are concerned) in your mind, your prejudices, your concerns. Though it is certainly possible to be an influence for good in bringing about great changes, the process involves something you do within yourself.
Here are four ways in which you can be an influence through which changes may be effected in the life of someone you are concerned about.
First, pray about the person. It should be noted that much that passes as prayer for a person is little more than concentrated worry about him. Prayer for oneself is a matter of lifting one’s consciousness from one level to another. But how can you lift the consciousness of another person? You can’t. You can only lift your consciousness, no matter how concerned you are about someone else. And yet you can be a great help. The starting place is your concern. When you rise above this human perspective, you will begin to feel at peace about the person, and then you can whisper a quiet “Namaskar!” to him. This means that the divinity in you salutes and relates to the divinity in him. Feel good about the realization that, beyond the appearances, there is an allness within his illness, an all-sufficiency within his seeming insufficiency. How long should you pray for this one you want to help? As long as you feel concerned. Whenever there is a feeling of release and inner peace, the work is done.
Second, establish yourself in the conviction of the divinity of man. Practice believing in people. Instead of generalizing about the limitations of people or groups (“You just can’t trust people these days”), look for the good performances of people and generalize them (“Aren’t people wonderful?”). One of the most effective things a parent can do for a child, a teacher for a student, or an executive for an employee, is to believe in him and let him know that you do.
Third, if you really believe in people, you will find it easy to bless them, and you should do so. When you meet and greet people, when you talk or write to them, let your faith in them flow through a “namaskar” attitude. There are many levels of consciousness in people and in ourselves. We can always make contact with any person on the level in him we choose. If someone rubs us the wrong way, we are probably reacting to him in the abrasive he-makes-my-blood-boil level of consciousness. Obviously there is a conflict. A large portion of the “good life” will open to you like a new horizon of abundant living when you really understand Jesus’ turn-the-other-cheek technique. We can’t control the actions or behavior of another person, but most certainly we can regulate what we react negatively to. When we discipline ourselves to turn quickly to a higher level of perception, we may be amazed at how rapidly other persons begin to interact with us on the higher level. All people with whom we have communication unknowingly and yet dramatically will begin to act more friendly and loving and harmonious.
Fourth, act as if the change you want to see manifest in another person has already taken place. It will give you a sense of release from the pressures and pain in your relationships. Goethe said, “When we take a person as he is, we make him worse; but when we take him as if he were already what he should be, we advance him to what he can be.” Three dozen words that surpass a whole library of books on human relations. Certainly pray for people, but remember you must change your thought about them. Believe in people.
Hold to the awareness that every person is a child of God, no matter how he is acting. Salute the divinity within people, see them and deal with them in the namaskar consciousness. But most important, treat them as if they were already what you believe them to be.
It's All In Your Head
Treat the alcoholic as a weak person, or the ex-convict as a criminal, or the young rebel as an outcast, and you prevent any effective communication, creating all kinds of blocks in you and in them. On the other hand, believe in the inherent goodness in the person and treat him as if it were actually there, and you will find yourself pushing all the right buttons in him.
In a very real sense, the only way you can change what another person is and does is by changing your thoughts of concern, and by committing him into the Father’s keeping.